Anoikis is a programmed cell death occurring upon cell detachment from the correct extracellular matrix, thus disrupting integrin ligation. It is a critical mechanism in preventing dysplastic cell growth or attachment to an inappropriate matrix. Anoikis prevents detached epithelial cells from colonizing elsewhere and is thus essential for tissue homeostasis and development. As anchorage-independent growth and epithelial-mesenchymal transition, two features associated with anoikis resistance, are crucial steps during tumour progression and metastatic spreading of cancer cells, anoikis deregulation has now evoked particular attention from the scientific community. The aim of this review is to analyse the molecular mechanisms governing both anoikis and anoikis resistance, focusing on their regulation in physiological processes, as well as in several diseases, including metastatic cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Copyright © 2011 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.